Halladay goes six innings as Phils hold off Marlins

Darin Ruf catches a fly ball in the seventh inning. He went 2 for 3 as the Phillies tagged Marlins pitching for 12 hits in the victory.
Darin Ruf catches a fly ball in the seventh inning. He went 2 for 3 as the Phillies tagged Marlins pitching for 12 hits in the victory.
Posted: September 19, 2013

There is a spot on the Citizens Bank Park grass that will forever belong to Roy Halladay even if he never pitches again here for the Phillies. The sod has been replaced, as are the days when Halladay dared everyone to dream. Fourteen feet from home plate, on the lip of the dirt around home plate, is where Halladay achieved greatness one October evening.

He took a long walk past his spot Tuesday at 8:42 p.m. He lowered his head. Six innings in a 6-4 victory over Miami served as positive reinforcement for a 36-year-old pitcher whose confidence wavered.

This was his final home start for the Phillies in 2013, and maybe ever. It happened in a meaningless September game at a half-empty stadium with a chill reminiscent of the day three years ago when he authored a postseason no-hitter against Cincinnati capped by the memorable dribbler fielded by catcher Carlos Ruiz.

"It was something I didn't think about," Halladay said of his future. "I don't allow myself to think that far ahead."

Halladay, a free agent this winter, allowed one run to Miami. He escaped trouble in the fourth and fifth innings. He scattered four hits, three walks, and a hit batter as he nibbled with off-speed pitches all night.

Context, of course, is crucial. The Marlins entered Tuesday with a .627 OPS, the worst in baseball by 50 points. No team has posted a lower mark since the 1981 Toronto Blue Jays at .617.

Halladay said his execution was improved. He was "definitely satisfied" with the results, although he said he does not make evaluations based on numbers. His penultimate outing will come Tuesday in Miami before one last start in Atlanta. What happens after then?

"I don't know," interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That's the unknown. You would think getting these innings under his belt, that's the first good sign. Have a normal offseason and start up his throwing program like normal . . . it's hard to tell. I'd be optimistic that he could gain some velocity."

Halladay teetered in the fourth. He hit a batter for the fourth straight start. A wild pitch moved Giancarlo Stanton to second before Chris Coghlan walked. A bouncer hit into the hole would have been an infield hit were it not for Jimmy Rollins' deft toss to third base for the inning-ending force.

The Marlins scored in the fifth on a Donovan Solano double and an Ed Lucas single. Christian Yelich drew a walk, which put Stanton at the plate as the go-ahead run. He hacked and missed at two 85-m.p.h., belt-high pitches. He fouled a hanging curveball to the screen. The slugger swung at a low change-up and popped it into first baseman Kevin Frandsen's glove.

"I wasn't going to let him hurt me," Halladay said of Stanton.

Chase Utley provided the support for Halladay. He blistered his second three-run homer in as many days for a fifth-inning cushion. Jonathan Papelbon needed 32 pitches to save it in the ninth.

Halladay threw strike one Tuesday at 7:06 p.m. to a smattering of cheers. Maybe 10,000 people dotted the stands. There was no extraordinary reaction when he departed 96 minutes later, perhaps for the final time.

"Unfortunately that's out of my control," Halladay said. "I'm going to continue to play as hard as I can for my organization and my teammates. Hopefully I have a chance to pitch again."

Three years ago, this ballpark swayed in euphoria as his teammates mobbed him. No one allowed for this possible ending.

Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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